Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Law expert: public within their right to seek Pope arrest warrant

Law expert: public within their right to seek Pope arrest warrant
A leading international law expert claimed the public are perfectly within their right to approach their local magistrate to seek an arrest warrant for the Pope during his visit to Britain later this year.

Calum Liddle

news.PinkPaper.comWednesday, 1 September 201031 August 2010
A leading international law expert claimed the public are perfectly within their right to approach their local magistrate to seek an arrest warrant for the Pope during his visit to Britain later this year.

Professor Philippe Sands QC made the comments in a public debate as part of the Edinburgh Festival's Spirituality and Peace programme on Saturday.

Speaking about Benedict XVI's impending visit to the UK, he said: “In terms of individual claims being brought forth, it depends on what the claim is about. There are certain international conventions in which when an individual crime is committed and that crime is capable of being subject to legal proceedings of criminal law of any country in the world, the criteria has then been met for arrest and prosecution.”

“When someone enters a country, international law no longer has the same leverage, it uses the national legal system of that country, whether it be Scotland or England. Anybody can go to a magistrate with colourful evidence, and on the basis of that evidence a magistrate can issue an initial arrest warrant. Individuals are perfectly within their right to do that during the [Pope's] visit.

“I'm a very strong supporter of that model, albeit with obvious safeguards. It's a positive thing, it's a good thing, it's the right thing.”

Atheist and evolutionist Richard Dawkins and civil rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, among others, hope to have the Pope arrested on the same legal principal used to arrest Augusto Pinochet, the late Chilean dictator, on a Spanish warrant when he visited Britain in 1998.

Sands, the author of Lawless World, added: “The basic proposition exists; if you commit an international crime – torture, an act of genocide in a systematic way, a war crime - you are subject to arrest. It is the same reason why Tony Blair will not be doing book signings in certain jurisdictions around the world because there is a real and justified fear of arrest.”

Prominent Scottish human rights lawyer, Aamer Anwar – a fellow panellist during the open public debate on international law – said he wanted to see more “people power on the ground."

“We need to shift the argument of justice beyond international law. If we look at the last century, major changes over equality, suffrage and civil rights were possible because people demanded change.”

Anwar, a member of the Stop the War Coalition, encouraged people to “exercise their human and legal rights for what is morally correct."

No comments: